The consumers price index (CPI) fell 0.2 percent for the December 2009 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today.
This fall, which was driven by lower food prices and weaker increases for other goods and services, contributed to an annual increase of 2.0 percent.
Food prices fell 2.4 percent in the December 2009 quarter, driven by lower prices for vegetables (down 17.6 percent), which fell strongly from their winter peak. Prices for the meat, poultry, and fish subgroup and the grocery food subgroup also fell in the December quarter. "Although food prices fell in the latest quarter, they were up 1.4 percent for the year and are 10.9 percent higher than two years ago," said Prices manager Chris Pike.
The latest annual rise in food prices included reductions in some package sizes, which are shown as price increases in the CPI.
The fall in food prices was partly offset by a 1.5 percent rise in the transport group, influenced by a 13.9 percent seasonal increase in international air transport.
While international airfares were up strongly in the December quarter, these were still 9.6 percent lower than in the December 2008 quarter. Annually, the transport group recorded an increase of 3.7 percent, with prices for second-hand cars (up 13.3 percent) and petrol (up 3.3 percent) rising from relatively low levels in late 2008.
The CPI increased 2.0 percent for the year to the December 2009 quarter. Non-tradable goods and services (which do not face foreign competition) rose 2.3 percent and tradables (which are imported or in competition with imported goods) rose 1.5 percent.
This was the lowest annual increase in the nontradables component since the December 2001 quarter, reflecting relatively low annual increases for electricity, rents, and the purchase of new housing. "Electricity prices were up 2.1 percent for the year, which is their lowest annual rise for more than seven years," Mr Pike said.
The CPI measures the rate of price change of goods and services purchased by households. Statistics NZ visits 3,000 shops around New Zealand to collect prices for the CPI and check product sizes and features.